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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

9 Punjab IAS officers at fault for misuse of funds

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, March 25, 2014
First Published: 21:08 IST(25/3/2014) | Last Updated: 21:52 IST(25/3/2014)

The Punjab government's inquiry committee headed by financial commissioner, revenue, has found culpability and impropriety against nine serving and retired IAS officers for improper use of Red Cross Society funds.

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These are Vikas Garg, SR Ladhar, Sarvjit Singh, K Siva Prasad, Anjali Bhawra and Kumar Rahul. Retired officers are JR Kundal, KS Sidhu and Harkesh Sindh Sidhu.

In its report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday, the state government said most of these cases were now pending for final decision by the personnel department.

The scandal had surfaced after Hindustan Times published a series of reports in December 2007, based
on voluminous information obtained under the RTI Act by NGO Resurgence India.

The high court, in March 2009, had constituted a committee comprising justice AL Bahri (retd) and justice RK Nehru (retd) to look into the doubtful working of the Red Cross Societies in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. The committee had submitted a number of reports highlighting irregularities.

Impropriety
It has been found that during the tenure of JR Kundal as deputy commissioner (DC), Rupnagar, irregular sale of Red Cross land was made to a private organisation namely Hawks Club. During the tenure of KS Sidhu as Gurdaspur DC, a payment of Rs. 1 lakh was made to MTNL of the phone installed at an MP's New Delhi residence in January 2002.

After finding an expenditure of Rs. 1.7 lakh as reimbursement for mobile phone bills of K Siva Prasad, the state government has sought his clarification, which is awaited.

During Vikas Garg's tenure as Patiala DC, a Toyota Innova vehicle worth Rs. 10 lakh was bought by raising loan against the fixed deposit receipt which was yet to mature.

Similarly, a Toyota Innova vehicle worth Rs. 10.5 lakh was bought in June 2011 during Harkesh Singh Sidhu's tenure as Kapurthala DC.

During SR Ladhar's tenure as Sangrur DC, the monthly rent of a marriage palace was arbitrarily reduced. When Sarvjit Singh was Sangrur DC, a petrol pump site was leased out without any tendering process to a public sector company.

Anjali Bhawra, then Fatehgarh Sahib DC, had taken an advance of Rs. 62,000 from the Red Cross Society and now the amount had been recouped to the society and the matter was under consideration with the department of personnel.

The conduct of Kumar Rahul, former Mansa DC of not providing timely information to the inquiry committee has been found improper.

No impropriety in Haryana, UT
Haryana government as well as Chandigarh administration said no misuse of official position was established nor had any monetary gain been derived by the officers concerned in allowing expenditure from the Red Cross funds.

The case has been adjourned to April 1.

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